Tilton voters will consider Pay as You Throw


January 12, 2011
TILTON — Tilton voters will be faced with a recycling warrant article come March, and the Recycle Committee says that while the goal isn't to force people to recycle, the proposed Pay as You Throw program will encourage it as a money-saving tactic.

The Recycle Committee recently submitted its proposed warrant article to the Board of Selectmen, though it will be a petitioned article and does not need the board's approval.

Recycle Committee member Joseph Jesseman said the program will bring cost savings to the town while allowing the town a more environmentally-friendly method of waste disposal.

If adopted, Pay as You Throw will require Tilton residents to purchase specific trash bags for their non-recyclable waste. The bags will cost $1 each. Anything that can be recycled can be put in separate containers marked "Recycle," and those will be picked up curbside free of charge. It will be single-stream recycling, so the recyclables themselves won't need to be sorted.

"You can buy all the bags you want," Jesseman said. "In that way it is not necessarily mandatory."

He said those households that choose not to recycle will "pay a premium," because they will have to use more of the $1 trash bags than those who separate their recyclables into different containers.

It currently costs Tilton $66 per ton to dispose of waste at the Penacook facility.

"They're not going to charge us anything to take away our recyclables," Jesseman said. "Getting as much out of our waste stream as possible will save money."

According to the warrant article, the first 50 bags will be provided to each household free of charge. Jesseman said Tilton will be one of the few towns to try giving away that many bags to ease the transition.

Once the free bags are gone, residents will be able to purchase them at stores like Bryant & Lawrence and the Winnisquam Trading Post, as well as Town Hall and the transfer station.

Recycle Committee member Dave Fox said the bigger box stores have said they will not carry the bags.

"I actually like the idea of (the bags) being in small stores, because that gives them foot traffic," Fox said.

The money collected by the town for the bags will be used against tipping fees. The warrant article calls for the creation of a separate recycling fund for those monies. Fox said the distinction will show people how the money is being used.

"We want it clear to people that there's a cost benefit," Fox said.

Jesseman said that last year in Sanbornton, the recycling program returned $91,000 to the town. In Laconia, he said, mandatory curbside recycling increased recycling rates by 40 percent, which means the city is paying less to dispose of waste in Penacook.

"Our potential here is stupendous," Jesseman said. "Eighty percent of stuff is recyclable, (and) we're only recycling 20 percent."

The warrant article asks for $25,000 to get the Pay as You Throw program underway, which covers the cost of weekly curbside pickup and the cost of bags. Jesseman said that after that, the program becomes self-supporting.

Because it's a petitioned article, the Recycle Committee still needs to get 25 signatures but did not anticipate any problems doing so.

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